22 Places to Visit in Andalucia I Wish I Hadn’t Missed

There are so many places to visit in Andalucia, and each one is more attractive than the other. This region in Spain has it all: big beautiful cities, magical white-washed villages and towns, national parks, and countless dreamy beaches.

So while my trip to Andalucia waunforgettablele, it was also a big source of travel FOMO for me. Planning my road trip itinerary, it became difficult for me to prioritize.

While I want to make the most of every destination I visit, I am also trying to accept the fact that it is impossible to see everything in a limited amount of time, especially when there’s so much to see in Spain. Seeing less and enjoying more is also one of the biggest Spain travel tips I can give you.

Finally, I decided to mix some Andalucian cities like Cordoba and Granada (a city that I was inspired to visit by a novel set in Spain – ‘The Return‘) with a few white-washed villages like Ronda and Zahara de la Sierra. Here are a few places to see in Andalucia that are still on my bucket list.

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Traveling to southern Spain? These are things to do, hidden gems, and beautiful places to visit in Andalucia that are still on my bucket list.




TOWNS, VILLAGES, AND CITIES IN ANDALUCIA I WISH I HADN’T MISSED

MIJAS

Mijas is a hillside typical Andalucian white village, and it is considered one of the most charming ones.

It is known as a great place to buy traditional ceramics made by local artisans, and its narrow streets full of colorful flower pots seem to be the perfect place to get lost in.

Places to visit in Andalucia - village of Mijas
Mijas. Photo 53146164 © Amoklv | Dreamstime.com

EL ACEBUCHAL

Once called ‘The Ghost Village,’ the history of this hamlet breaks my heart.

As an aftereffect of the Spanish Civil War, its inhabitants had to escape their homes after the authorities accused them of hiding Republican rebels in their isolated mountain village.

After 50 years of abandonment, the son of a former resident has returned to rebuild and repopulate El Acebuchal. He attracted many others to do the same, and nowadays, the hamlet is entirely restored.

Just for its history, I would love to explore this Spanish hidden gem someday.

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ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA

You only need to look at one photo of Arcos de la Frontera to see that it’s a beautiful town.

Known for its old town, castle, and dramatic location atop a sandstone ridge, I honestly don’t know why I haven’t included it on my itinerary (and why I must go back and visit it in the future).

Views of the village and river of Arcos de la Frontera
Arcos de la Frontera. Photo 150040355 © Stefano Valeri | Dreamstime.com

FRIGILIANA

Considered one of the most beautiful villages in Andalucia, I have no idea why Frigiliana wasn’t on my itinerary.

It seems like it is all thanks to Frigiliana’s old town, which is a well-preserved showcase of its Moorish heritage. I mean, who would not want to stroll for hours in a maze of dreamy, cobbled, flower-adorned streets?

White-washed streets of Frigiliana, southern Spain
Frigiliana. Photo 28930217 © Narcis Parfenti | Dreamstime.com

SETENIL DE LAS BODEGAS

Well, it is another white village, but unquestionably not an ordinary one. In the case of Setenil de las Bodegas, living under a rock is an actual way of life.

The houses of this curious town are built below and into the rock, which means that some of them have stones as roofs. Ticking the uniqueness box, I do not understand how I skipped out on this Andalucian gem.

houses of Setenil de las Bodegas built into the rock
Setenil de las Bodegas. Photo 161994786 © Stefano Valeri | Dreamstime.com

JAEN

Andalucia is internationally famous for its olive oil, but did you know that the city of Jaen is the world’s biggest olive oil producer?

As a person who absolutely hates olives but can’t live without olive oil, I wish I could take some olive mill tours, as well as visit the city’s most famous landmarks like Castillo de Santa Catalina, Jaen Cathedral, and Arab Baths.

City of Jaen from above
Jaen. Photo 84501849 © Sergey Dzyuba | Dreamstime.com

JUZCAR

Just from looking at photos of Juzcar, you know it’s one of the best villages to visit in Andalucia.

What was once a white village, Juzcar is now a smurf-blue village. Yes, smurf-blue. When Sony Pictures wants to celebrate the Premier of the Smurfs movie and paint your town, you can’t refuse.

With that amount of uniqueness, I am definitely coming back for another Spanish road trip.

Blue houses of the village of Juzcar
Juzcar. Photo 173369000 © Mahayt | Dreamstime.com

IZNAJAR

Yes, another white village! I know there are a lot of other places to visit in Andalucia, but these white-washed villages are just beautiful!

Also, Iznajar is a bit different. Not only does it have a castle from the 8th century, but it also sits on a huge freshwater lake that provides a very popular beach. Now, doesn’t that sound like a great place for a vacation?

Views from a lookpoint overlooking the town of Iznajar and the surrounding valley
Iznajar. Photo 61566508 © Steveheap | Dreamstime.com

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA

Famous for its sherry wine production and flamenco, Jerez de la Frontera is one of a few big cities I wish I hadn’t skipped out on.

The more I read about it, the more I feel like I have to go back to explore the local sherry bars, tour some sherry wineries, and watch a flamenco show.

It also hosts quite a few cultural events like a wine harvest festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia) and a flamenco festival, and if there’s something you don’t want to miss in Spain, it’s a Spanish party.

Jerez de la Frontera Cathedral
Jerez de la Frontera. Photo 59824891 © Alvaro Trabazo Rivas | Dreamstime.com

OLVERA

Another historic hilltop town that’s known for its castle but also its impressive church is Olvera.

It really seems like one of the most stunning places in Andalucia, which is why it’s even more annoying that I only discovered it after returning from my trip.

Olvera village, castle, and cathedral
Olvera. Photo 2677248 © Matthew Trommer | Dreamstime.com

CAZORLA

Located within the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura, and Las Villas National Park (the largest protected area in Spain and the second largest in Europe), Cazorla is another white-washed village with an old castle that I would have loved to visit.

Beyond its landmarks, it’s also known for its scenic surroundings of mountains and olive trees, which is exactly what I need in my traveling life.

Places in Andalucia to visit - Cazorla village and castle
Cazorla. Photo 53429886 © Fotomicar | Dreamstime.com

BAEZA

Thanks to its well-preserved Renaissance architecture, the town of Baeza was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the Renaissance town of Ubeda).

It seems like a place that makes you feel like stepping back in time, and I would have loved to wander through the streets of this historic town.



PLACES TO VISIT IN ANDALUCIA FOR NATURE LOVERS (THAT ARE STILL ON MY BUCKET LIST)

MINAS DE RIOTINTO MUNICIPALITY

Of all the things to see in Andalucia, Rio Tinto (‘Red River’) has to be the most unusual one. This river has red and orange colors that come from its chemical compound.

Along with other Mars-like landscapes in the Minas de Riotinto municipality, I would be thrilled to take a day tour to this intriguing and bizarre area.

Rio Tinto river and mines
Riotinto. Photo 28488148 © Natursports | Dreamstime.com

EL TORCAL DE ANTEQUERA

El Torcal de Antequera is a nature reserve known for its unique limestone formations. It’s part of a bigger cultural heritage ensemble called ‘Antequera Dolmens Site’ which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The reserve offers a few hiking trails open for free to the public, and some guided tours as well. For a full guide about Antequera, read here.

Hidden gems in Andalucia - rock formations of El Torcal de Antequera
El Torcal de Antequera. Photo 40423173 © Evan Spiler | Dreamstime.com

DOÑANA NATIONAL PARK

From lagoons and wildlife to beaches and sand dunes, every photo I’ve seen of Doñana National Park revealed a different and intriguing side of it.

I definitely want to explore more of Andalucia’s natural landscapes, and this natural reserve (which is a protected area) seems like a good place to start.

Here are some suggestions for hikes in Doñana National Park and guided day tours you can book.

Lagoon with flamingos at Donana National Park
Doñana National Park. Photo 179329951 © Pablo Escuder Cano | Dreamstime.com

TABERNAS DESERT

I’m more of a green scenery kind of girl, but I have to include the Tabernas Desert (the only real desert in Europe) on my Andalucian bucket list.

This type of landscape is probably the last thing you expect to see in Spain, which is exactly why I want to go back and visit this place.

This unique spot in Andalucia also has a cool surprise up its sleeve because its similarity to North American deserts has made it a popular filming location for western movies.

You can even visit some of the western villages that were built here like Fort Bravo and Oasys MiniHollywood Theme Park (which you can also visit on a guided day tour).

Tabernas Desert
Tabernas Desert. Photo 170579359 © Rudolf Ernst | Dreamstime.com

GRUTA DE LAS MARAVILLAS

Located in the heart of the town of Aracena, the Gruta de las Maravillas (The Cave of Wonders) is a unique hidden gem in Andalucia (literally hidden) – it is an underground cave that was naturally formed by water and limestone.

Visiting its network of galleries, chambers, and lakes seems like quite an experience, and I’ll definitely include it on my next trip to southern Spain.



HIDDEN GEMS IN ANDALUCIA: CASTLES I WISH I HADN’T MISSED

CASTILLO DE COLOMARES

Although this castle is not old nor does it have a very rich history, it’s still a place I would have loved to include on my itinerary.

The castle is a tribute to Christopher Colombus and the discovery of America. Since it covers 1500 square meters, it is the largest monument in the world dedicated to Colombus.

It also houses the smallest church in the world, but the most important thing is that it looks like it came out of a fairytale, and that to me is irresistible!

Colomares Castle
Colomares Castle. Photo 31572659 © Nobilior | Dreamstime.com

CASTILLO DE BURGALIMAR

I bet you haven’t even heard of the Burgalimar Castle, so you’ll be shocked to know that it is the oldest castle in Spain and the second-oldest in Europe!

Built in the 10th century as a Muslim fortress, it hardly suffered any damage over the years and is considered one of the best-preserved Muslim castles in Spain and fortified complex from that era.

Andalucia off the beaten path - Burgalimar Castle
Burgalimar Castle. Photo 143229135 © H368k742 | Dreamstime.com

CASTILLO DE ALMODOVAR DEL RIO

Medieval castles are right up my alley, so even though I’ve seen quite a few on my trip, I’m eager to go back and visit the Castle of Almodovar del Rio. Beyond its Moorish origin, what makes this castle unique are the tours and activities it offers.

Amongst them are medieval combat training, medieval lunches, and a Games of Thrones-themed tour (the castle is one of the filming locations of the 7th season).

I don’t think it can get more offbeat than that, and I’m honestly questioning my judgment as I’m writing this.

For more information about tours and prices consult the castle’s official website.

Almodovar del Rio Castle
Castle of Almodovar del Rio. Photo 71895753 © Eyewave | Dreamstime.com


BEACHES THAT ARE STILL ON MY ANDALUCIAN BUCKET LIST

PLAYA BOLONIA

I’m always in search of serene and unspoiled places to explore, and this beach seems exactly what I’m looking for.

I’ve heard of Bolonia Beach only after getting back from Andalucia, but if I had known about this paradise back then, I would definitely visit it.

Apart from the fact that it looks absolutely dreamy, Bolonia beach is also unique. It’s home to some of Europe’s tallest sand dunes, and one specific 30-meter high dune is considered a natural monument. Pretty impressive, right?

Fun fact: Near the beach, you can find the ruins of the Roman town of Baelo Claudia, which are considered to be one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Spain.

Playa de Bolonia, southern Spain
Playa de Bolonia. Photo 195688848 © Ramón Majarón Solís | Dreamstime.com

PLAYA DE LOS MUERTOS

One of the best things to do in Andalucia is to enjoy its magnificent beaches.

Leaving its daunting name aside (‘Beach of the Dead’), Playa de los Muertos seems to be a piece of paradise along the Andalucian coast and one of the best beaches in southern Spain.

It is a protected area in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, which means that you’re guaranteed a beach where it is only you and the sea (and probably a few more people).

It also means that there are no provided services like chairs or toilets, so consider that when planning a visit.

Which one of these places in Andalucia are you going to include on your itinerary? Tell me in the comments!

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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). Obsessed with anything Spain-related, I'm always planning my next trip (and the excitement alone can bring tears to my eyes, not that it's difficult to make me cry).

18 thoughts on “22 Places to Visit in Andalucia I Wish I Hadn’t Missed”

  1. My wife and I have lived in Sevilla for the last 15 years, and it’s a great base for visiting so many of the places on this list – as well as having its own fascinating places to explore. I have to agree with the suggestions Or has made. Come to Spain, when it’s safe so to do, of course.

    Reply
  2. Hi Or..Great post.I’m planing a trip to Spain in fall,so i want to ask you how you recomend to move around,shuld i rent a car or use public transport?

    Reply
    • Hi Daniela 🙂 Spain’s train system (Renfe) is great if you want to move between big cities and some of the towns. The smaller villages are not as conveniently accessible by public transport, so I suggest renting a car. It really depends on what places you’re planning on visiting.

      Reply
  3. Once we can safely get back to traveling, I want to go down and visit Júzcar, I love Chefchauoen in Morocco and seeing the photo you shared reminded me of it. I love blue colored towns and pueblos blancos as well! 🙂

    Reply
    • I love the pueblos blancos and any colorful town too 🙂 I haven’t visited Chefchauoen yet but it seems beautiful.
      Hopefully, we can travel again soon!

      Reply
  4. What a great list! It’s now MY list of places I wish I”d seen! I studied for a semester in Granada in 2006 (cough old cough), we went to the Antequera reserve a few times but that’s all I’ve seen from this list. I’m now dying to see Setenil de las Bodegas!! Amazing

    Reply
    • Well, then we both have some catch up to do in this region 🙂 I seriously need to return to Andalucia and visit these places!

      Reply
  5. Oh wow! Many places I didn’t even know existed. Definitely made me want to visit Andalucia even more. And now I could use this post before deciding on my itinerary. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • I’m glad you find it helpful! I’m always trying to find these less-known places, but with a limited amount of time, it’s impossible to fit them all into your itinerary.

      Reply

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